By Britt Klontz published May 11, 2014

How to Keep Facebook Viable as a Content Marketing Platform

young guy-leather jacket-with pepsi bottleIf you listen to a lot of the commentary about social media these days, you’re probably hearing a lot about how Facebook brand pages are becoming less valuable for content marketing. This article from Convince & Convert, for instance, aptly articulates a number of reasons why this may be the case, with the most essential point being that while brands may view their page as a community, they’re treating those pages more like a platform for delivering marketing campaigns. 

Most Facebook “likes,” for instance, come from users attracted by an initial incentive who don’t return afterwards. That kind of “fan” is also much more likely to hide your brand’s posts in their feed. If that happens enough times, the Facebook algorithm will make your updates lower priority in your fan’s news feeds. And even when fans do come back to your page or don’t hide your posts, only about 1 percent actually engage. Again, that’s bad news, as Facebook’s algorithm uses engagement as a form of ranking.

But as the Convince & Convert article discusses, this isn’t a problem with the technology of the Facebook business page, but rather in how business owners are using it. Pages only thrive if fans feel like they’re part of an active, engaging, and interesting community, rather than passive, unwilling consumers at whom advertising is forced. Rather than focusing on gimmicks and shallow tactics, effective Facebook business pages delve deep to become rich content marketing platforms that fans won’t be able to help commenting on and sharing.

Don’t believe me? The proof is in the pudding. 

Two Facebook brand pages that get it right 

1. McDonald’s

While not free from its fair share of social media stumbles (remember its massive Twitter fail?), McDonald’s has been killing it lately in its war with Taco Bell over the breakfast sandwich.

The war began when Taco Bell launched a series of ads starring real-life boys and men named Ronald McDonald who claim to love Taco Bell’s new breakfast items. In response, McDonald’s made fantastic use of its Facebook page in posting an image of a Ronald McDonald-style clown petting a chihuahua (reminiscent of the old Taco Bell mascot) with the caption, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” The photo received thousands of likes and shares and a ton of comments. While there was some trolling in the comments, the debate just fueled more sharing and commenting. Talk about an engaged community!

mcdonalds clown petting chihuahua 

2. Pepsi

Pepsi already has a dynamic and engaging Facebook page, but it became all the more so with the Pepsi Exclusive program, which gives its fans VIP first access to their favorite pop artists. This can range from a look at the newest Beyoncé video to an entire concert sponsored under the Pepsi Exclusive umbrella.

Each post about the program is tagged with #pepsiexclusive, so fans can easily search for the latest information and post about their own experiences. When they do so, they make it easier for Pepsi to find their contributions and reshare their commentary — a move that makes fans feel appreciated and goes a long way towards fostering a passionate community.

facebook example-pepsi exclusive

How you can use Facebook wisely for content marketing

While garnering the same amount of engagement as these two major brands may be unrealistic for every brand, there’s still a lot you can do to make Facebook a viable brand-building tool. Of course, it’s a good idea to start by taking the time to educate yourself on the platform’s marketing benefits. But the real key here is to truly turn your page into the community it’s meant to be with rich, varied content that really reflects the interests and style of your audience.

A few suggestions for doing this:

  • Create interactive apps: Integrating an interactive app for your Facebook page is not only easy, it’s also bound to get more people clicking and sharing. Apps can range from videos to games, discussions, and reviews that encourage customers to tell the world what’s on their mind. If you have the budget, creating your own app can be well worth the effort required to do so.
  • Provide exclusive access: Of course, one of the best ways to continually engage fans and create new “likes” is by providing exclusive access, as long as whatever you’re providing access to is rich and meaningful. #PepsiExclusive does this with events, but you can also provide exclusive access to deals or even to fun or particularly helpful pieces of content. You might, for example, write an extensive guide for a process or procedure you know your audience will be interested in, host it on a microsite and provide an access code to your fans. This way, they’ll feel rewarded with excellent — and free! — content just for returning to your page.
  • Make good use of hashtags: While hashtags can be effective across the board when it comes to social media, they’re especially effective for brands that already have cult followings on Facebook. Nutella, for example, incorporates a #spreadthehappy hashtag throughout all of its Facebook content. This tag appears often in “vs” competitions (i.e., “New York bagel or New Orleans baguette?“), and is used to invite fans to share their own photos, videos, and recipes. Again, the hashtag makes searching easy, and it engages fans in a way that encourages their own creativity.

The takeaway

At the end of the day, Facebook is still a viable content marketing platform. It’s just up to brands and business owners to use it as such, rather than as a one-way advertising pitch machine.

Do you have additional suggestions for maintaining Facebook’s brand value despite the rise of paid placement on the platform? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Find more tips for using Facebook and other platforms to increase the impact of your content. Read our Content Marketer’s Guide to Social Media Survival: 50+ Tips.

Author: Britt Klontz

Britt Klontz is a Digital Content Strategist at Distilled, an online marketing company. She thrives on planning and coordinating content marketing campaigns and is always keeping a close eye on the latest viral trends. Say “hi” and give her a shout on Twitter @Britt_Klontz, she’s always interested in having a chat about digital marketing tactics and social networking in general.

Other posts by Britt Klontz

  • http://johnhaydon.com/ John Haydon

    Britt – Excellent post – I love your three recommendations (app, exclusivity. hashtags). The two examples you mention also show how important it is for a brand to have their ear to the ground, so to speak.

    McDonalds’ understanding of their audience is part of what made their post successful. Their audience knows Taco Bell, and they have a sense of humor.

    • Brittany Klontz

      You’re spot on, John! I definitely agree that the key to social media success is understanding your audience. Thank you for bringing that point up, it is so worth mentioning.

  • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

    This is really great information. You make some very important points here about how to make Facebook advertising effective.There’s no doubt that it’s still one of the most powerful social media tools.

    • Brittany Klontz

      Thank you for your feedback, Barbara! I have to agree with you, as marketers we can still get a lot of use out of Facebook. I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

      • http://www.it-sales-leads.com/ Barbara Mckinney

        Thanks Brittany! I’m looking forward to reading more posts from you.

  • Nick Atkinson

    This article read like it’s pitched at people who have never used a computer before, let alone Facebook. Come on guys, can we get a bit more advanced?

    • http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/ Michele Linn

      Nick — Sorry to hear this was not an article you found useful. If you have any specific topics in mind that would be useful for you to learn about, don’t hesitate to me know: michele [at] contentinstitute.com.

  • Storewars News

    Really informative article. Read this recently: Why consumer
    brands like Coca Cola, Kellogg, Cadbury and others have. Check it here: http://bit.ly/1okx1Vn.

  • http://www.LinkedMediaGroup.com Linked Media Group, Inc.

    I disagree with this article on many levels. Facebook is an Ad Platform plain and simple. Yes, if your a big brand like McDonalds (I hate to see them used as a case study BTW for many reasons) or Pepsi and your giving away stuff, running contests, have the community management staffing resources, etc., then Facebook will work on a more organic level.

    Pepsi and MickyD’s are big well established brands with tens of millions of consumers familiar with their food and/or beverages. But, for the average small biz under say $50M in revenue that is targeting consumers they will not get traction on Facebook without advertising.

    Yes, do they need to couple advertising with good community management? Yes, engaging with the community, sharing great images and videos, using targeted hashtags, curating and sharing informative content are all essential to Facebook success.

    And, good effective community management on Facebook is going to require time and marketing resources – there is a burdened cost for these activities as well.

  • Álvaro Rodríguez Resino

    Really good article. I have came to the same conclusion. You should treat Facebook as it REALLY is (a social network for people), rather than an advertisement wall. Most readers gets really bored of simple marketing messages, leaving engagement. You have to participate the conversations you’re interested in, and share valuable content. That’s all.

  • DanielPageASEO

    Hey Britt,
    Great post. I just wanted to reach out and let you know that I included your article in the ASEOHosting roundup of May’s best content marketing articles. http://www.aseohosting.com/blog/2014/06/seo-content-marketing-social-media-may-2014/ Thanks for the insightful article.

    Daniel

  • http://opentopic.com Alex Bisset

    I really enjoyed your article. I do agree with the gentleman from Linked Media Group, Inc. in that McDonald’s and Pepsi are major brands with millions of fans and a huge budget for sponsorship and marketing. From a budgeting perspective, what Pepsi did as a brand, wouldn’t be viable for a smaller company. Being able to build on another piece of content and respond to it or put your spin on it, like McDonald’s did, is a good way to weild Facebook as a content marketing tool.

    There are content marketing software platforms like Opentopic and Kapost that allow users to find and discovery content and really tailor it to your brand. Being able to build off of current news and trending topics is another way to engage with your audience.